In the world of unpronounceable last names, there are those who can sing and those who can't. After a single listen to her charming debut, Africa Violet, it's only too clear just which category Lynn Olagundoye belongs to.
An unknown prior to signing with the Winnipeg-based Absurd Machine label, the Calgary native's refreshing take on R&B shows incredible potential. Her desire to sound human, let alone talented and musical, stands out among the recent wave of computerized, synthesized, jazzercised singles to hit the airwaves. Perhaps most striking are her polished abilities in the absence of Jay-Z, Pharrell or the ubiquitous Timbaland on all ten tracks of Olagundoye's self penned, defiantly diverse offering. In their place, Olagundoye collaborates with funk-rock label mates Guerrilla Funk Monster in a balanced multi-genre blend of understated musical elements complimenting her Mariah-esque power and range.
Drawing from a score of influences that reads like a list of past R&B/jazz Grammy winners, Olagundoye is ambitious to say the least. Africa Violet quietly boasts touches from Mary J., Lauryn, Erykah, India Arie and even Ella herself. Backed by a voice that is altogether sultry, soulful, feisty and feminine, Olagundoye can't help but deliver. Luscious harmonies and smooth grooves become album mainstays, uniting tracks and changing genres to suit Olagundoye's particular mood. Africa Violet's jumps from sumptuous self-esteem valentines, to soul, to smoky lounge jazz and brazen innuendo seem organic on an album that bears the markings of Olagundoye's musicality.
Having invested so much of herself into Africa Violet, Olagundoye's music reveals an artist brimming with talent and an understanding of just how good the sound of a human voice can be.